Interview: The Melvins’ Buzz Osborne Talks New, Acoustic 36-Song Collection

The Melvins are back with their most ambitious project yet: Five Legged Dog, a 36-song, newly recorded acoustic album featuring a career-spanning collection of songs—from 1987’s Gluey Porch Treatments to 2017’s A Walk With Love & Death, the entire range of the legendary band’s catalogue is represented. The album is out now via Ipecac Recordings.  

“More is more,” vocalist and guitar player Buzz Osborne says. “It seemed like a good idea. No one has ever done anything close to this, and I felt it was time for us to do it.” 

The Melvins are one of modern music’s most influential bands. Having formed in 1983 in Montesano, Washington, the group were founded by Osborne (with stalwart drummer Dale Crover joining the following year) and has been credited for merging the worlds of punk rock and heavy music into what became known as grunge. Over the band’s nearly 40-year history, they’ve released over 30 original albums, numerous live full-lengths, and far too many singles and rarities to count. In 2021, this acoustic retrospective finds The Melvins unstuck in time.  

“I’m not a person who likes to look backwards,” Osborne explains. “I don’t find songs of ours, or albums, to be precious, they’re just suggestions of how things were then. I would record all of them differently now, everything. I’m not a ‘good ol’ days’ kind of guy.” 

“[With this album], we were trying to take what were already good songs, give them a good representation acoustically, and make it work,” he continues. “I think that it is showcasing how much power these songs had, and perhaps some people didn’t notice it. We spent a lot of time focusing on the vocals, because we knew they’d stand out more.” 

The band recorded and mixed Five Legged Dog with Toshi Kasai at the Sound of Sirens Studios in Los Angeles.  

“Every day during the session, I would come into the studio with songs I had decided on the night before,” Osborne recalls. “They would be songs I figured we’d be able to tackle acoustically. Then I would show Dale and Steven the arrangement, and we’d get to recording. By the end of the day, generally, we had two or three songs done.”  

Five Legged Dog also features acoustic versions of several rarities from the influential band’s overflowing discography, including a cover of Redd Kross’ “Charlie,” “Outside Chance,” a Turtles cover from the Slithering Slaughter single, and new interpretations of The Rolling Stones’ “Sway,” Brainiac’s “Flypaper,” and Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talking.” 

“Some of the covers I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and some we’ve already played live, like Sway, Charlie, and Halo of Flies,” Osborne says. “I’ll think of an idea for a cover song, and a lot of times, it’ll take a lot of time before we can do it. It was nice to be able to do this—I think these came out really well.” 

“Music is timeless,” he continues. “A Jimi Hendrix song is just as relevant today as it was then. The same with The Who, Sex Pistols, or so many bands. The longevity of music goes beyond anything we can imagine.” 

Listen to “Night Goat (Acoustic)” here:

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Photo courtesy of The Melvins and Derek Tobias

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